Pastor's Desk Notes

March 10, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, gives us great reason for hope as we enter more deeply into these penitential days. Hopefully our disciplines and prayer have begun to bear fruit in our lives. Perhaps they have been a bit of a struggle, but even in those challenges we can see the grace of God at work. Today, though our journey in the desert is not yet over, the Church sounds for us a note of hope as we look forward to the day on which Christ accomplishes our salvation.

The name “Laetare Sunday” comes from the first words of the entrance antiphon at Mass: “Laetare, Ierusalem, en conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam; Gaudete cum Laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.” “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” We might pause at the 8th Station of the Cross, where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. They represent the whole of Jerusalem grieving over their sin, appropriately pained by the reality of the Passion. They weep also because the one they love is suffering. The women of Jerusalem are able to love precisely because they have been loved first. The call to rejoice is also fitting, then, for Jerusalem (and thus the whole People of God) has been loved so profoundly by the Lord. Even in the midst of grief, the women can be comforted and consoled by the power of God’s love. Just so, even as we undertake these weeks of penance, even as we grieve our sins in the sacrament of confession, we can be called to rejoice.

The rejoicing of Laetare Sunday is also inspired by the second Scrutiny. We pray for our catechumens and candidates today that they would receive the eyes of faith with which to see Jesus. As the story of the man born blind is proclaimed, we are reminded of the mystery of how God calls and works. Jesus makes clay, rubs it on the man’s eyes, and commands him to wash. Our Lord sees the man in his need and, without a word being spoken between them, Jesus satisfies the man’s great desire. The image of clay opening the man’s eyes evokes the image of the creation of man. God, who is perfectly sufficient in Himself, in an act of pure love, created the world and all that is in it, beginning with the command from God, “Let there be light.” As Jesus heals the man born blind, we see that God is always active, always moving toward us, always acting on our behalf in acts of pure love. Though the formerly blind man does not fully understand what has happened to him, he is filled with a desire to believe. So our catechumens and candidates are encountering the mystery that they are created and loved by God, and we pray for the light that comes from Christ to shine in their hearts and minds more and more each day. This same light is the desire of our hearts, too. As we accompany those preparing to receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil, we pray that our own desire for the sacraments, for the light of Christ, would increase in our hearts.

Though we remain in the desert, though the Passion of our Lord remains before our eyes, though we may face many challenges in these forty days, today is a reminder that we can still rejoice. Even in our crosses we can find hope. Even in our difficulties, we can find joy. Even at the foot of the Cross, we find reason to rejoice in the Lord who gives us hope.


Fr. Sam